Rich Vegan Buttercream Frosting

4.4 (5)
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Rich Vegan Buttercream Frosting

Use this smooth, creamy Rich Vegan Buttercream Frosting recipe for decadent vegan cakes where you want some buttery flavor to shine through. In my search for a truly decadent frosting that is also resistant to melting in warmer temperatures, I utilized the power of soy milk powder.  (not to be confused with soy flour). Soy milk powder adds extraordinary creaminess while still allowing the frosting to remain firm. This allowed me to use a simple syrup (sugar and water) for a sweetener so the frosting is silky smooth. This vegan frosting also takes advantage of caramelizing sugar to the thread stage of 230F (110C) where it contributes a smooth velvety texture. Finally, I used Vegan Butter or margarine as the main fat due to it's affordability and availability.

The firmness of this frosting can be customized to your preference easily by adding or subtracting 1 Tablespoon of water.

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Rich Vegan Buttercream Frosting

2 cups granulated white sugar
½ cup water
2 Tablespoons soy milk powder
2 Tablespoons amber agave syrup or corn syrup
½ teaspoon salt

1 cup (215 grams) or 2 sticks Regular Vegan Butter or non-hydrogenated stick margarine (not tub margarine, room temperature)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1) Caramelize your sugar mixture

In a small saucepan, add the sugar, water, soy milk powder, agave syrup, salt and place over medium heat while whisking frequently until it starts to simmer. Insert a candy thermometer and bring the mixture to 230F (110C). Once the candy thermometer is inserted you don't need to worry about whisking because natural heat convection currents will do the mixing for you. Transfer to a heat proof bowl and let it cool in the refrigerator until it's near room temperature, about 1 hour.

2) Beat in the rest of the vegan frosting ingredients

Beat in the Vegan Butter and vanilla extract until fluffy. Store the frosting in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 10 days. Make sure the frosting is at or near room temperature for optimum frost-ability. This recipe makes about 2 cups of Rich Vegan Buttercream Frosting or enough for about one layer of an 8 inch diameter cake

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(Updated: October 22, 2013)

I tried! I can't

I tried making this recipe; I thought I could do it (since, as I stated below, my boifriend pulled it off without a hitch). My result was grainy and separated; the same outcome I get every time I try to make a cooked buttercream, as opposed to the smooth, creamy goodness it ought to be. Any ideas of what I am doing wrong??

Thanks for your help. I will master the cooked buttercream yet! argh!

Owner's reply

Hi HayGurlHayCafe! Sorry you got the graininess! What's probably happening is that the sugar is partially crystallizing as it's cooling in the refrigerator despite my efforts to stop it by using agave syrup as an anti-crystallization ingredient (the sugars in the agave act like barriers for growing sugar crystals). The problem is that these tiny sugar crystals are like gremlins; once they form, good luck getting rid of them! And they'll just keep on growing and growing.

I just had a thought for a future batch: Why not try cooling the mixture in the refrigerator until slightly warmer than room temperature, say 90F to 100F? That way, less sugar crystals should form and they can be held at bay until the fats are mixed in. The fats will melt and the mixture will be liquid, but placing it in the refrigerator for 15 minute stints and mixing in between should allow it to incorporate air and keep everything smooth. I'll try this method in the near future.

As for the sugariness mentioned in your boifriend's comment below, I'm getting ready to start experimenting with coconut milk powder soon as a structure builder so I can reduce the sugar content a little. Thanks helping my in my drive to make this recipe better!

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you've done it again, Mattie

Nice job yet again, Mattie!! My ladypal just baked me some cupcakes last night using this icing. She is a vegan baking novice and pulled it off without a hitch (nor a candy thermometer)!

Though great, I found this recipe to be a bit sweet for my tastes. I am wondering what you might recommend if I wanted to cut down on sugar? Not sure it would still be structurally sound if I reduced the sugar or not. I've tried cooked (vegan) buttercreams made with tapioca or corn starch before but they always turned out like watery slop (though I may have overcooked the starch...who knows). Anyway, any advice is much appreciated!

Thank you so much and keep up the good work!!!!

Owner's reply

So glad you liked it HayGurlHayCafe! I'm actually revisiting all my frosting recipes that utilize this method. I'd like to replace the soy milk powder with a starch and allow the sweetness to be decreased too. I also think the use of soy milk powder has introduced some inconsistent results for other bakers. In regards to starch, I know what you mean! I'm going to try to use just enough so it can displace sugar without adding a gummy consistency. I'll be sure to update the recipes when I've figured it out. Thanks so much for your feedback!

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Couldn't make it work :(

This recipe sounded scrumptious, and I'm always in search of reliable new vegan frosting recipes (so hard to come by!). The directions were simple and I followed them to a tee, but unfortunately couldn't make it work despite trying twice. I'm a longtime baker so just wondering if you have any tips when making this frosting? I can't seem to get it past a thick-ribbon/runny stage even after adding the margarine and vanilla.

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At last! No vegan "shortening" involved in butterc

Hi Mattie,

Thanks so much for posting this recipe! I have been searching and searching for a dairy-free, egg-free, gluten-free Buche de Noel recipe...and I think I just found my "inner log" buttercream solution.

If I wanted to add a different flavor (e.g., coffee, brandy, etc.), do you think it would be all right if I used the real thing (e.g., coffee, brandy, etc.) instead of a coffee- or brandy-flavored extract?

Thanks, again! Your website rocks -- I just found my favorite go-to Vegan food blog.


Owner's reply

Hi Doodle,

Thanks for the kind words! I recommend using extracts because to get coffee flavor with coffee you'd have to add so much that the frosting would be too watery. You could probably use straight brandy or any other liqueur too because liqueurs are usually pretty concentrated. Whatever flavoring liquids you add, I'd keep it under about 2 teaspoons to keep things thick and spreadable. Buche del Noel is a brilliant idea. Let us know how it works out!

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delicious flavor! any tips for preventing recryst

I just made this and I have to say that the flavor is AMAZING!!! Everyone should try it. It's the most delicious frosting I've ever had. I'm going to try the shortening-based one next to compare.
The only problem that I ran into was that my sugar syrup mixture recrystalized as it cooled (as in, it turned into a big hard block of flavored sugar), which resulted in a very grainy end-product, obviously. I know that sugar syrups can be tricky and hard to get right. I'm not sure if I agitated to much, cooled it too fast, had the heat wrong, etc. It could have also been that I didn't have enough liquid since I reduced the water by 1 Tbsp. I'm going to try this again to get it right, but I wanted to ask--are you whisking constantly and briskly the entire time (before and during boiling) for the 2 mins? Is there a certain temperature that the mixture is supposed to come to/be at on a candy thermometer? Finally, what is the texture supposed to be like when it's finished cooling--does it remain a liquidy, syrupy texture or does it get thicker?
Thank you for your help and for the great recipe!!

Owner's reply

Hi sugar-challenged,

Thanks so much for your questions. I've just updated all of my Rich Frosting recipes to specify a caramelization temperature of 230F for more precise, consistent results. I also updated the recipes to specify that it should be cooled in the refrigerator to 'near room temperature'. This combined with the agave syrup should reduce your chances of grainy sugar re-crystalization in the future. Thanks for the input!

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recipe question

I'm excited to try this buttercream recipe for a vegan bakesale fundraiser, but I'm trying to decide if I should use this recipe or the Rich Vanilla Frosting recipe from this website. I noticed they're very similar but this one has more sugar and adds agave and omits the vinegar. Is there a big difference between the recipes, or is this kind of an updated/perfected version of the other one?
Thanks for your input!
One more question that I would love anyone's opinion on since I'm a total amateur baker. If I want to make this frosting lychee flavored, would I sub lychee syrup (from canned lychees) for the water, or maybe for the sugar and water?? THANK YOU!

Owner's reply

Hi Ang,

The Rich Vanilla Frosting and the Rich Buttercream Frosting are very similar and are based off the same basic formula. The sugar is equal in both (2 cups) and they both have agave syrup to inhibit crystallization of the sugars. The Buttercream's fats are 100% margarine and there is less vanilla extract. The Vanilla's fats are 100% shortening and has more vanilla and the addition of apple cider vinegar.

In regards to Lychee frosting, this sounds awesome! I would use the vanilla frosting recipe for this and probably sub the lychee syrup for the water then reduce the sugar by a bit (2 or 3 Tablespoons?) to compensate for the sweetness of the syrup. I'm a little concerned that tasters won't be able to detect lychee taste with these procedures alone due to their subtle flavor. You may want to top the cupcakes or cake with the lychees chopped in half to promote their flavor and visually enhance your dessert.

Good luck!

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